Badger cull opponents post minister's home address online
The Government minister in charge of the badger cull is furious after opponents posted his home address on the internet.
The personal details of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who was appointed last week, were published on the website of the Coalition of Badger Action Groups, which includes former hunt saboteurs and activists who were involved in the campaign against the animal testing facility Huntingdon Life Sciences.
Private information belonging to other ministers, government officials and employees of the National Farmers' Union were also made public.
Two pilot culls of badgers to tackle bovine TB are expected to take place later this year in West Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Photographs purportedly showing Mr Paterson's Shropshire home have also been published. Activists claimed the information on ministers was leaked by "someone … high up in the civil service".
Mr Paterson is understood to be furious that his office telephone number, along with other details, were made public.
The website first published the information on the day he assumed office and activists bombarded his department with prank telephone calls, playing a viral video known as the "Badger, Badger Song" down the phone.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) sought an injunction against the website and personal details were removed from the site after Government lawyers contacted activists.
However, "mirror" websites have since been set up outside of UK servers, including one which has gone further by publishing what is believed to be Mr Paterson's home address.
A Defra spokesman said: "We respect the right of people who disagree with the government's policy on badger culling to make their views known through legitimate channels such as through the courts, responding to consultations and by writing to ministers.
"However, any organised campaign of intimidation of public figures, their families and their employees is unacceptable."
The Badger Trust, who earlier this week lost an appeal court battle against the cull, called on the website to stop its campaign of publishing addresses.
"We have absolutely nothing to do with illegal action," said a spokesman.
Meanwhile, outspoken independent MP George Galloway has tabled a Parliamentary petition demanding a U-turn on the cull.
The early day motion, signed by four MPs in total, urges the minister to "halt the imminent cull which could make the situation worse and lead to the badger population in some areas being entirely wiped out".